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Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt wins snowy giant slalom, Team USA’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle does not finish

Marco Odermatt.Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press

BEIJING — Marco Odermatt has owned the giant slalom this season, and now he owns an Olympic gold medal in the event.

The 24-year-old Swiss skier plowed through snow and poor visibility Sunday to win the men’s giant slalom at the Beijing Games.

“I really risked everything in the second run because I wanted not just the medal, I wanted the gold medal,” Odermatt said. ”It’s difficult because you can lose everything but today it paid off."

It was the first time snow fell during an Alpine skiing race at this year’s Olympics and the bad weather conditions caused the second run to be postponed by 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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“It was a hard day, with the conditions, with such a long wait between the two runs," Odermatt said. "It was more than five hours for me, it was such a long time to re-think everything and it was hard to stay focused. I tried to sleep some minutes in between.

"I actually never dreamt about it but now it still feels like a dream.”

Odermatt coped with the conditions and the delay — and a first-run mistake — to post an unofficial combined time of 2 minutes, 09.35 seconds.

Zan Kranjec of Slovenia took silver, 0.19 seconds behind, and world champion Mathieu Faivre of France earned bronze, 1.34 behind.

Meanwhile, Vermont’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who snuck in for a silver medal in the Super-G, did not finish his first run on Sunday, which knocked him out of medal contention.

The skiers had been racing and training on artificial snow until the real thing started to fall on Saturday at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center. A second women’s downhill training run was canceled because of the conditions on Sunday.

It was the first medal in a major championship for Odermatt, who is competing at his first Olympics. He was seventh in Monday’s downhill and failed to finish the super-G the following day.

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Odermatt has dominated in the giant slalom this season, winning four of the five races on the World Cup circuit to lead the discipline standings as well as the overall standings.

He let out a roar after crossing the line on Sunday and raised his ski poles above his head.

Odermatt was fastest in the first run despite having to recover quickly after getting pushed low and off the racing line about 15 seconds in. But Kranjec beat him by more than half a second in the afternoon to leap from eighth and also claim his first medal at a major championship.

Stefan Brennsteiner of Austria was 0.04 behind Odermatt after the first run but he fell with a few gates remaining. He managed to get back on course but finished more than 15 seconds off the pace.

Henrik Kristoffersen, who won silver at the world championships, also almost skied off the course known as The Ice River but managed to catch himself. He had been fourth after the first run but finished eighth, 1.90 behind Odermatt.

Two of the other top eight finishers from the first run — Manuel Feller and Luca De Aliprandini — failed to finish, helping Kranjec move up six places.